1. Obtain information regarding health care resources in the local area. These should include local hospitals (find a couple to minimize use of one ER), a local pharmacy that is willing to fill scripts called from the patient's personal physician, an outpatient or minor trauma facility, ambulance service, other emergency numbers (ie: Sheriff, Fire Dept., Poison Control.) Plan for the worst that can go wrong and you will never be caught unprepared. (This information can generally be obtained by calling the head nurse in the local ER and explaining that you are providing health care coverage for a gathering and asking for the appropriate local contacts and phone numbers. She is your ally, make yourself known to her before you face her over an emergency.

2. Check the medical kit and obtain any additional supplies which might be required. (Refer to the attached list for suggestions on the most commonly used items.)

3. Plan schedule for daily "sick call". Generally one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon should be sufficient. Sick call should be staffed with medical professionals if available in order to triage those patients who require more care then you are capable of providing on site.

4. Coordinate with Registration Coordinator to send out forms to be completed by those requiring medical care or special assistance during Merry Meet. The Registration Coordinator should forward information regarding any individuals with medical problems to the Health Care Coordinator as soon as they are recieved so that any necessary arrangements can be made to insure their saftety and comfort.

5. Once you arrive on-site, be sure to thoroughly inspect the site for potential hazards such as poison ivy, unsafe structures, places where snakes might be present, etc. Mark any such sites clearly with signs and/or cloth tape to keep people away. Also be sure to look carefully at access routes which might need to be used to get an ambulance or other emergency vehicle into the campgrounds in case of serious illness or injury.


1. Coordinate with gathering security regarding emergency response to accidents. Have an outline of the plan for emergency response made up and available to be posted at key locations.

2. Place forms on registration tables at the site to obtain health care volunteers. You are responsible for obtaining a list of volunteers and for planning coverage for medical needs on a 24 hr basis. DONT TRY TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF!! Before assigning volunteers to any coverage, sit down with them and discuss their credentials and experience so that you become familiar with them and their capabilities.

3. The Health Care Coordinator should carry a radio and monitor it at all times and/or designate someone to do this for them. (The person carrying the radio does not have to be a professional, only a person who can assess the situation, render basic first aid, and summon assistance as needed) The coordinator or another professional should be "on-call" back-up in case the situation requires more professional levels of expertise.

4. Treatment on-site should be limited to basic first aid and minor illnesses. Anything outside of minor illness or injury should be referred to a physician for care. To do otherwise places the care provider at risk in case of complications.

5. Any patients seen at sick call should have documentation filled out. This provides a record of care which can be useful if return visits are necessary or if the patient must be transported to another treatment facility for care. It also provides a historical record of the kinds of illness or injury treated to aid in planning for medical coverage at future gatherings.


1. Don't forget to sit down after the gathering is over and assess the successes and failures of your plan. What could you have done differently to provide better care? What unexpected problems did you encounter? This kind of after-action evaluation will help you provide better care at your next gathering.

Main Index / Healthcare For Gatherings

Last Updated April 3, 1999